So much for the much-anticipated golden age of natural gas.
Energy analysts say Japan’s moves to restart its nuclear power plants will put a crimp in demand for liquefied natural gas, according to Bloomberg News.
That doesn’t bode well for the energy companies that spent hundreds of billions of dollars to secure natural gas supplies and build facilities to turn the gas into a liquid that can be shipped to markets in Asia and Europe.
Demand from Asia was a major factor in a 2011 report from the International Energy Agency that posed the question: “Are We Entering a Golden Age of Gas?” But with Japan’s nuclear restart pending and China’s economy cooling, demand has shrunk. LNG prices in Asia have fallen more than 60 percent since hitting $19.80 per thousand cubic feet in February 2015.
Meanwhile, LNG producers, including the Sabine Pass facility in Cameron Parish, will add an estimated 55 million tons of new capacity in 2016, according to Bloomberg. The addition increases capacity by roughly 20 percent; U.S. facilties could add an additional 60 million tons a year by 2021.
David Hewitt, the co-head of global oil and gas equity research at Credit Suisse Group AG, told Bloomberg to expect a glut of spot shipments that will put more pressure on prices.
“We would not be surprised to see some very low headline spot price deals in the next few years,” Hewitt said.